Thursday, June 24, 2004

Spent a great Monday and Tuesday with my friend and coworker, Steve, on Mount Koya or Koya-san as it is referred to here. So close to Osaka (a few hours South by train), I continue to be inspired by the many beautiful places I've visited in Japan. I won't attempt to recreate many of the other descriptions of that place, which can be found you know where.

We wondered if we would be able to get there, departing for our adventure knowing that a typhoon was fast approaching. I heard some word-of-mouth news from someone in the office that trains from Kyoto had been cancelled. In fact, while we were walking to the train station, it began to sprinkle and the sky was well bruised, indicating more impressive damage would be forthcoming. I had an umbrella and it was raining steadily by the time our train left.

Raining solidly amid gusting winds, we reached our destination and were a short ride from the center of town, where we would negotiate lodgings in a temple. Smoking outside the station and contemplating our plan of action, I quickly realized how ineffective my umbrella would be and decided to purchase a rain poncho to keep my clothes dry.

At the tourist information center, we had no trouble finding a place to stay. There aren't many tourists on Monday, especially when a typhoon is brewing. I expected to have to sleep in some kind of medieval Japanese dungeon or something, but the lodgings were typical for a Japanese inn. After eating some lunch and resting a bit, we decided to take advantage of what appeared to be a pause in the nasty weather.

Our destination was the famous cemetery and a hike through the surrounding mountains. The gentleman at the entrance of the cemetery suggested that it wouldn't be safe to continue. The storm had increased to a higher pitch than anything I had yet witnessed in Japan, and we paused to reconsider the continuation of our adventure. We had invested too much energy to turn back, and decided to venture forth despite the warnings. We looked at it as a challenge. It was that or go back to our temple and drink beer in our room for the rest of the rainy day, which wasn't too appealing. Aside from that, everything is closed on Mondays, except for the convenience store, which really didn't offer too much in the way of entertainment.

The cemetery was impressive. It was a little intimidating to walk along the deserted stone paths, strewn with the giant fallen limbs of the cedar and pine trees that surrounded the cemetery, but eventually, it seemed that the storm died and we could walk in a slight drizzle without the fear of getting knocked senseless by a falling branch. Perhaps the mountains were protecting us from the wind. Perhaps Buddha was smiling on us.

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